Health ministry to release new dietary guidelines

National 2 minutes, 39 seconds


THE Ministry of Health (MoH) will be updating its National Dietary Guidelines sometime this year to provide Bruneians with relevant dietary recommendations, said a senior health official recently.

In an interview with The Brunei Times on the sidelines of a non-communicable diseases (NCDs) workshop at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), Hj Zakaria Hj Kamis, head of the Public Health Nutrition Unit under the Health Promotion Centre (HPC), said the ministry is reviewing and revising its dietary guidelines, which provide useful and informative recommendations on healthy dietary practices and a healthy lifestyle in accordance with the nutritional and health status of the Bruneian population.

The first National Dietary Guidelines were issued 16 years ago in 2000.

The updated dietary guidelines will have a vital function not only for the general public but also for healthcare professionals and policy makers to inform and direct policy towards promoting and achieving dietary intake that meets nutrient requirements while reducing the risk of NCDs, said Hj Zakaria.

The National Health and Nutritional Status Survey conducted in 2014 involving more than 2,000 Bruneians showed an increased prevalence of NCDs as well as other worrying trends in dietary practices.

A revised version of the dietary guidelines is timely with the evolving scientific knowledge on nutrition and public health in the past decade, said Hj Zakaria, adding that the guidelines also needed to be adapted to the changing and transition of food habits and lifestyles in Brunei Darussalam.

The new edition of the dietary guidelines will also provide a comprehensive overview of how Bruneians can improve their overall nutritional status.

Hj Zakaria said the revised version will include key recommendations of specific targets, meal portions and dietary limits based on the scientific evidence MoH has gathered through its health experts.

“We’ve decided to conduct a literature review based on current scientific evidence and to relate this to our current nutritional status in Brunei. As a first step in the development of the dietary guidelines, we’ve formed a technical working group,” he said.

The technical working group consists of more than 20 experts, including nutritionists, dieticians, medical officers, health education officers and physical education officers from the Health Promotion Centre, the Community Nutrition Division, the Food Safety and Quality Control Division, Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital and UBD.

“The aim of the working group is to review and revise the dietary guidelines in order to maintain their relevance, consistent with the current scientific literature as well as the health and nutritional status of the Bruneian population,” he said.

Hj Zakaria said the draft key messages and recommendations will be deliberated through several rounds of discussion with members of the working group.

The final draft document will then be sent to an external reviewer from the World Health Organisation. Once finalised, a consensus workshop will be held with relevant stakeholders which will comprise representatives from agriculture, health, communication and other agencies.

“This will ensure that all relevant aspects of the different stakeholders are taken into consideration, and by involving different stakeholders, it increases the likelihood for success of the National Dietary Guidelines in addressing national health problems as well as helping to create greater awareness and acceptance of the guidelines,” he added.

The Brunei Times